The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has always been a place for conservative voices to unite, discuss and promote their ideology. However, the recent conference has set a new low, with a deluge of anti-transgender comments, speeches and displays.
CPAC is an annual gathering of prominent conservative figures, including politicians, media personalities, activists and supporters. The conference has long been a platform where conservatives come together to discuss their party’s future and to promote their agenda. This year, the conference has taken a dark turn, as anti-transgender remarks were made throughout the event.
The conference featured several prominent speakers who made othering and derogatory comments against the transgender community. One of the keynote speakers, Young Pharaoh, referred to transgender people as “mentally ill” during his speech. This comment sparked outrage and sparked conversations about the harm such words have on the community. Speaker Madison Cawthorn made a speech in which he referred to transgender individuals as “mentally twisted” and stated that their actions “go against how we were created”.
Other speakers at the conference also spoke in a derogatory manner about transgender people. Texas Senator Ted Cruz mocked the gender identity of Biden’s Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr Rachel Levine. He referred to her as “a guy who decided he’s a girl” during his speech. This remark angered many, who saw it as an ad hominem attack against an important member of the Biden administration.
CPAC has always been a conservative event, but this year it seems to have turned into a platform for attacking not just liberals, but also members of the LGBTQ+ community. Remarks like these undermine the humanity of transgender individuals, and erode the progress that has been made in the LGBTQ+ rights movement.
Beyond just the speeches, there were also several displays throughout the conference that demonized the transgender community. One booth had a sign that read “Protect Female Athletes”. The booth displayed a t-shirt that read “I stand with female athletes” and depicted a tangle of male and female symbols. This message alienates transgender athletes who simply want to compete in the sport that aligns with their gender identity.
Another booth displayed a sign that read “Protect Women’s Sports.” This booth displayed a t-shirt that read “Save Women’s Sports” and depicted a female athlete with the word “biological” crossed out above her. The message of this booth should have focused on the inequality of pay and resources for women in sports but instead it focuses on being exclusionary towards transgender women.
CPAC has always been a platform for conservatives to discuss their ideas, but it has now taken a turn towards intolerance and hostility. The anti-trans rhetoric from this year’s conference seeks to perpetuate harmful stereotypes and invalidate the lives, identities and experiences of transgender individuals.
Transgender individuals already face discrimination and violence in the United States, and comments like these from CPAC speakers only fuel this hate. Transgender individuals also face high rates of mental illness and suicide, and hateful remarks only serve to exacerbate the situation.
It is important to acknowledge that everyone has the right to their beliefs and opinions but it is not acceptable to dehumanize or attack another person based on their identity. The discourse at CPAC should focus on policy issues, not attacks on marginalized communities. Instead of making divisive and bigoted comments, we should be working towards creating a more inclusive and welcoming society for all.
The display of hateful messaging is especially concerning given the political power held by the conservative political figures at the conference. Such voices influence legislation, policies and budgets that affect the lives of many people. To progress as a nation, it is crucial to call out and resist any harmful comments from lawmakers and other public figures.
In conclusion, the Conservative Political Action Conference was designed to foster conversation about policy and ideas between conservatives, but this year’s conference was primarily focused on attacking those in the transgender community. The event displayed multiple misogynistic messages and continued to perpetuate gross stereotypes that continued to harm transgender individuals. This is unacceptable and shows how much further there is to go for true acceptance and representation of the LGBTQ+ community in the United States.